MORTLAKE all-rounder Shane Slater last night opened what he hopes will be a big week for him and his club, winning South West Cricket’s cricketer of the year award.
It was the veteran’s second win in the coveted division one award, six seasons after his first.
He iced victory with three votes in Mortlake’s final match of the season when he made a game-high 51 and took 2-18 off eight overs against semi-finalist Bookaar.
The 38-year-old finished with 22 votes, four clear of Heytesbury Rebels opening batsman Simon Harkness.
A vote further back were three players, Pomborneit all-rounder Coby Dudman, Simpson all-rounder Brad Salmon and Noorat skipper Wil Pomorin.
In an exciting count at Noorat last night, Slater entered the final round two votes clear of Salmon and three ahead of Pomorin. But his player-of-the-match three votes sealed the result.
Slater was one of the precount favourites after scoring 608 runs at an average of 43.4, on top of taking 28 wickets at an average of 10.7.
Mortlake captain Todd Lamont said his veteran all-rounder had produced a season to remember, reinventing himself as a match-winner with both bat and ball.
“He’s had the best year since I’ve been playing with him,” Lamont said.
He said Slater’s form was better than when he won the award in 2008-09.
“I thought he was probably past his best but he’s wound back the clock this year.”
Part of the transformation was linked to more opportunities.
“The last couple of years we’ve had pretty good depth so we have batted him at six or seven and he hasn’t had much of a go,” Lamont said.
“We’ve pegged his bowling back to give others a go but this season we had a few out so we gave him a chance to open the batting and he made two hundreds in the first two games.”
The right-handed batsman has also batted at four, five and six.
His season’s work included the two tons and three half-centuries. He scored 95 against Boorcan in the third-last round of the season as he attempted to better his season’s high of 125 in round two against Woorndoo.
The right-arm swing bowler’s accuracy enabled Lamont to use him in the middle overs or at the end of an innings. He took wickets in all but three matches, with two five-wicket hauls.
He will be a key player when the Cats take on Pomborneit in Saturday’s grand final as his side chases a hat-trick of titles. When he won the award in 2008-09, Mortlake played Pomborneit in the grand final. But that year, the Bulls charged to victory.
In a dramatic night, the division two and three cricketer of the year awards produced ties.
In division two, Port Campbell teammates Andy Rylance and Rhys Davies polled 15 votes each to take home the trophies, while in division three Woorndoo’s Larry April and Heytesbury Rebels’ Tim Fraser each polled 14 votes.